Decca has issued a number of sets dedicated to various gigantic artistic personalities of the past and one of the most desirable is the one dedicated to Josef Krips, one of the most underrated conductors of the early stereo era.
Mozart was always a Krips speciality and these recordings of four late symphonies are tantamount to that. The 'Jupiter' is particularly graceful but the Risbon Le-Zion recording is vastly inferior to the magnificent Kingsway Hall recordings of the 39th and 40th recorded almost six years earlier.
The Brahms 4th is also excellent and once again the London Symphony play quite brilliantly especially in the Passacaglia. The same goes for the similarly romantic interpretations of the Schubert 8th and the Schumann 4th, both strong, big-boned readings that are extremely recommendable even in the vast plethora of versions currently available.
The best recording in the set is the famous Tchaikovsky Fifth with a trenchant VPO and an astonishing sound balance that truly comes to life in the 96KHz remastering. The Haydn symphonies are also well mannered and are as good as the Doráti readings that were Decca flagships in the past.
Finally there are two vocal items, Beethoven's 'Ah Perfido' in a magisterial interpretation by Inge Borkh and the rabid 'Salome' Closing scene with another astonishing contribution by that legendary soprano.
The short, informative notes are a boon to the set and the presentation is slimline and quite attractive. All historical enthusiasts are urgently recommended to acquire this set and the others in this quite outstanding series.
Copyright © 2003, Gerald Fenech